<< Tempo Markings

The tempo markings that we just learned describe a constant tempo. What about when tempo is changing? How do we indicate that a tempo is gradually getting faster or gradually getting slower?

Gradual Change of Tempo

There are tempo indicators that describe changing tempo. Some of the common ones are listed below.

Gradually Getting Faster

Accelerando (accel)
Piu mosso

Gradually Getting Slower

Rallentando (rall)
Ritardando (rit)

See the Glossary for definitions of each tempo change marking.

Proportionate Tempo Change

Some tempo markings do not indicate an exact tempo (i.e., fast, slow, moderate), but instead are used in comparison with whatever tempo came before. A marking may indicate that you should change to slightly slower than previously. If the previous tempo was Presto, then you may drop back to Vivace; if the previous tempo was Lento, then you may drop back to Grave.

The following are some proportionate tempo markings and their meanings.

  • Meno Mosso – suddenly slower than before
  • Doppio Piu Mosso – twice as fast as before
  • Doppio Piu Lento – half as fast as before

Strictness of Tempo

There are two opposite terms that indicate strict adherence or loosening of the tempo:

  • Tempo Giusto – Strict tempo (i.e., play as though you had a metronome playing with you)
  • Rubato – Tempo may fluctuate (e.g., get faster, then get slower)

<< Tempo Markings

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